The house that I grew up in, in Kenya probably grew out of a doodle that my father handed to a company of local builders. They in turn probably knocked it together out of wood and cement in next to no time at all and we probably moved in before the paint was dry.
Thinking about it now, it’s quite amazing that it took about a decade for the house to begin to crumbling at its seams. But the staircase being made out of cast concrete, well that was the most solid thing in the house! It had 8 steps of varying depth that lead from my “room” to my parents room. I say “room” because I realise now that it was actually little more than broad corridor with a bed in it. Anyway. The staircase was my favourite place in the house. It was the best place to play on rainy days. I would leap from it, pretend it was a mountain and when the time came that I begun to get homework, I’d sit on the second to top step and use the top step as my makeshift desk. Call me romantic, but I’d like to think that this is where thing with staircases begun.
These days I live in a flat and I always take the lift to my floor – because stairs and buggies will never be great friends. However, when I do see a beautiful staircase – I marvel at its form and secretly feel the urge to climb to the second to top step, sit down and read a book. I imagine that would get me into all kinds of trouble.
There are plenty of well-liked staircases in London. The Tate Modern, Tate Britain, V&A, Somerset House and other famous tourist destinations never fail to impress on Instagram. I like them but not quite as much as I do the staircases hidden away it the realities of everyday local London. In places like tower blocks, office blocks and public services like libraries and town halls. I was quite hypnotised by this splendidly sinuous timber one that I came across in the library in Canada Water.
Do you have a favourite staircase?